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Dimensions Healthcare to pay $125K to settle sex discrimination suit

Dimensions Healthcare System has agreed to pay $125,000 to settle a lawsuit filed by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission that alleged the company denied a promotion to an employee because she took several months of maternity leave.

The EEOC filed suit on behalf of Cassandra Crawford last year in U.S. District Court in Greenbelt, claiming the Laurel-based health care system promoted a less-experienced male employee to a manager position instead of promoting Crawford, in violation of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which prohibits employment discrimination based on sex, and the Pregnancy Discrimination Act.

“No woman should be denied a promotion or any other employment opportunity based on her sex, pregnancy or use of maternity leave,” EEOC Philadelphia District Director Spencer H. Lewis, Jr. said in a statement.

A spokesperson for Dimensions declined to comment on the settlement.

Crawford, who is no longer an employee, worked in Dimensions’ patient financial services department in Cheverly for more than seven years, including two years in a supervisory role, according to the EEOC’s complaint.

She was on maternity leave from January 2014 to April 2014, the suit stated. In October of that year, Dimensions chose to promote a male employee — who had less than two years of entry-level experience at the company and had allegedly been disciplined for attendance issues — to a manager position over Crawford, the suit stated.

The EEOC alleged Dimensions’ associate vice president told Crawford that she had been considered for the manager role but was ultimately passed over because she had been “on maternity leave for a while.”

U.S. District Court Judge Paula Xinis denied Dimensions’ motion for summary judgment in September, finding that the vice president’s statement to Crawford could be “direct evidence” of sex bias.

Dimensions will pay Crawford $125,000 in monetary relief to resolve the suit, under a two-year consent decree that was approved last week. The decree also requires Dimensions to revise its job posting and internal transfer policy to implement a non-subjective promotion policy and make clear that the company cannot discriminate based on sex, pregnancy or maternity leave.

Dimensions will also provide annual anti-discrimination training to all managers and supervisors, as well as to employees in its human resources department, and will report to the EEOC on how it handles future sex discrimination complaints.

“This is a meaningful settlement that will protect women from sex or pregnancy discrimination and ensure that promotion and other employment decisions are based on an individual’s qualifications and not sex,” EEOC Regional Attorney Debra M. Lawrence said in a statement.

The case was U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission v. Dimensions Healthcare System, 8:15-cv-02342-GJH.

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